Tag Archives: farpoint

Book Review: The Seven-Per-Cent Solution by Nicholas Meyer

A lost journal by Doctor John H. Watson—discovered by Nick Meyer’s uncle in the attic of a home in Hampshire, England—tells the tale of Watson’s desperation to permanently exorcise Sherlock Holmes of the demons of cocaine addiction. In seeking advice from a fellow physician, Watson learns of the unorthodox methods of a Viennese psychiatrist.

Meanwhile, Holmes has been spending his days and nights in the dogged pursuit and general stalking of Professor James Moriarty, the “Napoleon of crime!” as the famous detective has come to consider him. Surely, the fiend is up to something and must be stopped.

For his part, Moriarty, a humble math professor, has no idea why Holmes is shadowing him and implores the assistance of Watson who believes the genteel man to be honest. Together with Sherlock’s older brother, Mycroft, Watson convinces a reluctant Moriarty to travel to Vienna hoping that Sherlock will follow.

The plan works perfectly, and Watson “guides” Holmes to the residence of Doctor Sigmund Freud where both physicians attempt to rehabilitate the master detective and cure him of his hideous addiction through hypnosis. Needless to say, Holmes’s withdrawal and convalescence are torturous to both himself and Watson.

At the same time, a young catatonic woman is brought into the local hospital and Freud is summoned to look in on her. Holmes and Watson decide to join him. Freud again employs hypnosis to discover that the woman is actually Nancy Slater, the American widow of the late Baron von Leinsdorf and had spent her honeymoon in an attic!

Holmes, as usual, applies his extraordinary powers of observation to determine, based on her physical condition, that the Baroness had been abducted, bound, and imprisoned in an attic somewhere near the river among closely constructed factories and warehouses.

From here the game is—as Holmes would say—afoot as our intrepid trio attempts to solve this nefarious crime.

I’d first read The Seven Per-Cent Solution over 15 years ago, but no longer had my copy. I was fortunate to meet Nicholas Meyer at the Farpoint convention in February 2017 wherein I purchased a newer edition and had it signed. Meyer is, of course, the directThe Seven-Per-Cent Solution Book Coveror of many excellent films including Time After Time, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. He also co-wrote those Star Trek films along with Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. He also wrote the screenplay based on the novel I am currently discussing.

The Seven Per-Cent Solution is a thoroughly enjoyable read that felt like a solid Sherlock Holmes tale. Narrative, pace, and dialog were mostly faithful to Doyle’s work, and a young Sigmund Freud was represented in a way that honored his reputation and abilities.

 

Phil with Nicholas Meyer Phil with Nicholas Meyer

 

 

The Power of Presentation

The Write Stuff writers conference this weekend proved my point yet again about the power of presenting. After delivering a fun and engaging session first thing Saturday morning on “Writing the Compelling Short Story,” I proceeded to sell 10 books at the afternoon book fair. Compare that to last year where I worked only as a volunteer and sold one book.
Going back further in the time to 2014 when I last presented at the Write Stuff, my sales at the book fair were higher than one year later, when I was the conference chairman. 
 
With one exception, it never fails that delivering a quality solo presentation—or participating in a discussion panel—and connecting with an audience will generate books sales for an up and coming writer. Whereas merely showing up and sitting at a table with your books without first building a rapport with the attendees will almost always fail to generate decent sales unless you’re already a well-established name/best-selling author. 
 
After decades of attending conventions like Shore Leave and Farpoint and becoming a regular participant in discussion panels there, I can always count on selling at least a few books at these conventions. Whereas at Philcon or Balticon, where I am a relatively fresh face, sales are few or nonexistent right now. These things take time. 
 
The aforementioned exception to my rule was last year’s Great Philadelphia Comic Con in April in Oaks, PA. There, I had no presentations or discussion panels. I merely set up a table and proceeded to sell about a dozen books. It was an amazing weekend and I will be returning to the Great Philly Comic Con again in two weeks along with writer pals Steven H. Wilson of Firebringer Press and Bob Greenberger, Peter David, Aaron Rosenberg, and Russ Colchamiro of Crazy 8 Press.
All told, the Write Stuff conference was a fantastic three days filled with brilliant presentations, excellent information, and most of all, camaraderie with generous and supportive writers. Keynote speaker Michael Hauge was outstanding.
Kudos to two-time Conference Chairman Charles Kiernan and the entire Write Stuff committee for their herculean efforts!
Michael Hauge at Write Stuff 2017
Michael Hauge at Write Stuff 2017
Write Stuff Book Fair 2017
Write Stuff Book Fair 2017

Farpoint 2017 After-Action Report

We’re home from yet another fantastic Farpoint where I finally had the honor of meeting someone I consider an inspiration as a writer and storyteller—Nicholas Meyer. Mr. Meyer’s directing and/or screenwriting credits include Time After Time, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered CountryThe Day After (TV movie), and much more including the new CBS series, Star Trek: Discovery. He also wrote the Sherlock Holmes novel and screenplay, The Seven-Percent Solution.

I wanna be THAT guy when I grow up! 😀

After a thoroughly enjoyable dinner at La Tolteca with Aaron Rosenberg, David Mack, Chris Kennedy, Glenn Hauman, and Eric Bakutis, it was time for the Friday night book fair, where I would have the opportunity to meet Nick Meyer.

Earlier in the day, I had purchased a replacement copy of The Seven-Percent Solution from a dealer. From my personal collection, I brought copies of the scripts for the aforementioned Star Trek movies while my wife, Evon, brought her hardback copy of A View from the Bridge, Mr. Meyer’s memoir of his time working on the Star Trek films.

As Mr. Meyer signed my items, I told him that he was one of my writing heroes, which actually brought him to a complete stop. He became momentarily verklempt, as did I.  He thanked me as he continued signing. Before having our photo taken together, I presented him with a copy of By Your Side, one of my paranormal mystery novels. He seemed genuinely grateful.

Phil with Nicholas Meyer

After that, I returned to my table where shenanigans ensued as Bob Greenberger began swapping name placards amongst nearby writers including myself, Aaron Rosenberg, Kelly Meding, Steve Wilson, and Lance Woods. Cameras, bottles, cans, even Steve Wilson’s  flask were not spared from the hide-and-seek hilarity. This added even more magic to the evening. You just can’t find a group of silly scribes like this anywhere else!

Phil and Evon at Farpoint 2017 Lance Woods and Steve Wilson at Farpoint 2017 Kelly Meding, Bob Greenberger, and Aaron Rosenberg Kelly Meding at Farpoint 2017 Bob Greenberger and Aaron Rosenberg at Farpoint 2017

My table was part of the Firebringer Press row that included Steven H. Wilson, Lance Woods, and debut author Diane Lee Baron with her novel, Gal WonderClick here for more info on Diane’s book!  By the end of the night, I sold a few books and signed one that a reader bought elsewhere (which is always a good feeling).

Gal Wonder by Diane Lee Baron

Saturday morning began with my wife and I taking our Star Trek II posters to Nicholas Meyer for yet more autographs and photo ops.

Evon with Nicholas Meyer Phil with Nicholas Meyer

My first panel of the day was Firebringer Press Presents at 11AM.  Diane Lee Baron chatted up Gal Wonder, which had a “soft” launch at Farpoint’s book fair, but will have a full premiere at Shore Leave in July along with the mass-market paperback collection of Steve Wilson’s Arbiter Chronicles SF novellas.

Firebringer Press Presents

I spoke about Like Mother, Like Daughters, my paranormal novella slated for release in October, as well as my second-place winning Rehoboth Beach contest story, “Tower Sixteen,” which was recently submitted (with its original ending) to a paranormal anthology slated for next year. If accepted, it would be my first story to be published in two different anthologies and with two different endings!

Firebringer Press Presents discussion panel

Michael Critzer chatted briefly about his upcoming non-fiction book, Heroic Inspirations, debuting this summer. Michael has taught courses on the mythology of superheroes and this book will represent a extension of that.

Afterward, Steve Wilson and I made our way to our scheduled readings at noon. Our audience consisted of Michael Critzer and my wife. Writer David Mack then arrived to finish the hour with his reading, but with such a small gathering, we simply yammered instead.

I was then free until 3PM when I shared a table with Peter David for our autograph hour. It was wonderful to spend time talking with him about his own work as well as the legendary Harlan Ellison, another writer who inspired me and has been close friends with Peter for decades. With no sales, and with Nick Meyer speaking at 4PM on the main stage, I packed up my books early, dropped them off in my room, and joined my wife who was saving a seat for me in the ballroom.

Mr. Meyer regaled an appreciative audience with stories of his first meeting with producer Harve Bennett about writing Star Trek II. A few drafts of the script (each a completely different story) had been written, from which Bennett and Meyer created a list of the best parts. From that list, Meyer wrote an entirely new script, but waived credit for it. This was after he had already signed on to direct.

Nick Meyer at Farpoint 2017 Nick Meyer at Farpoint 2017 Nick Meyer at Farpoint 2017

He also spoke about working with Ricardo Montalban (whose much-debated chest was actually his own, not a prosthetic), his vituperative relationship with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry (who balked at the story for Wrath of Khan), and touched on the film adaptation for The Seven-Percent Solution.

Mr. Meyer’s presentation ended with a skit in which linguist and Farpoint regular, Marc Okrand—who developed the Klingon language for the Star Trek movies—read a “communique” from the Klingon Empire, translated into English by Nick Meyer,  honoring Gene Roddenberry and all of the main Star Trek actors that we’ve lost over the past 25+ years including DeForest Kelley, Mark Lenard, Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, James Doohan, Leonard Nimoy,  and Grace Lee Whitney.

At 6PM, I had the honor of moderating (somewhat nervously and perhaps ineptly) a discussion panel called “Avoiding Cliches in Your Writing” with panelists Lauren Harris, Peter David, and the reason for my jitters…Nicholas Meyer. However, the panel was entertaining and informative, but not without each of us veering off into tangents once in a while. Yet even as moderator, I would never have the temerity to interrupt Nicholas Meyer!

Avoiding Cliche in Your Writing discussion panel Avoiding Cliche in Your Writing discussion panel

My wife and I ended our evening with dinner at the Silver Spring Mining Company (love that place!) before calling it a night. Normally,  I would have stayed up late and joined my fellow con attendees at the Ten-Forward Dance Party in the atrium, but I was exhausted and wanted to get a few things done online.

Of course, in between the book fair, discussion panels, and autograph sessions, my wife and I caught up with old friends that we only see at the cons. This is an important reason why many of us attend. In fact, for some it is the only reason.

Since I was not scheduled for anything on Sunday, my wife and I departed by 9AM and made it home before noon to enjoy our first taste of spring weather. Sunshine and 65F degrees!

It should be noted that there was still a full day of programming on Sunday at Farpoint including a 2PM showing of Time After Time hosted by Nick Meyer.

Never Fear…GAL WONDER Will Soon Be Here!

Firebringer Press is proud to present GAL WONDER, a new novel from debut author Diane Lee Baron! Cover art by Todd Brugmans.

Sara Goode is awkwardly ignoring her mid-life crisis and relationship difficulties by becoming consumed with finding Adam West, the star of the 1960s BATMAN TV show.

Her quest to thank Mr. West for his impact on her childhood leads to a series of wacky escapades worthy of a superhero. But does she ultimately fulfill her quest, and will she be able to face up to the challenges in her own life?

Stay tuned to the misadventures of Gal Wonder!

We’ll be hosting a “soft” book launch for GAL WONDER at Farpoint SF convention, February 17-19 in Timonium, MD.

Gal Wonder Book Cover

My Schedule for Farpoint 2017

My convention season begins, as usual, with Farpoint, a con I’ve been attending since its founding in 1993 by the man would later become my publisher at Firebringer Press, Steven H. Wilson.

This year, Farpoint will be held over President’s Day weekend, February 17-19. Flip through the Program Book here with a wonderful cover by Todd Brugmans.

One of the discussion panels I’m moderating is also one that I pitched called “Avoiding Cliche in Your Writing.” My co-panelists include fantasy writer Lauren Harris, veteran speculative fiction and comic book writer Peter David, and Nicholas Meyer.

Yes, THAT Nicholas Meyer, director of such films as Time After Time, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (which he co-wrote), and writer of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. In other words, three of the top-grossing Star Trek movies. He also wrote the Sherlock Holmes novel The Seven-Percent Solution.

No pressure for me there at all. Nope! Actually, it will be an honor considering Nick Meyer is a writer I’ve admired for years. Excited doesn’t describe it! Of course, con schedules are fluid, but I hope to have the opportunity to sit with Mr. Meyer for an hour. 

Below is my current schedule for Farpoint. Any updates will be posted as soon as they come in.

Farpoint Book Fair. 10PM to Midnight on Friday in Dulaney I. Mix and mingle with the author guests. Pick up some books and autographs!

Firebringer Press Presents! 11AM to Noon on Saturday in Chesapeake I. Moderator: Steven H. Wilson. Participants: Phil Giunta, Daniel Patrick Corcoran, Susanna Reilly, Diane Sahar. Firebringer Press authors discuss their current and upcoming releases and read excerpts from their stories, time permitting.

Author Reading. Noon to 1PM on Saturday with Steven H. Wilson and David Mack.

Autograph Session. 3PM to 4PM on Saturday at the Authors Autograph Table Area with Peter David and David Mack.

Avoiding Cliche in Your Writing. 6PM to 7PM on Saturday in Chesapeake I. Moderator: Phil Giunta. Participants: Nicholas Meyer, Peter David, Lauren Harris. How to describe emotions, actions, and situations in your story without resorting to tired cliches and inane metaphors like “his face fell”, “her eyes followed him around the room”, or “her heart sank into her stomach.” Panelists will discuss ways for writers to avoid these often laughable mistakes.

Social Media for Authors. 8PM to 9PM on Saturday in Chesapeake I. Participants: Pip Ballatine, Lauren Harris, Phil Giunta. There’s a skill in presenting yourself and publicizing yourself on social media–things to emphasize and things to avoid. Facebook or Twitter? Avoid politics and religion? Panelists will discuss methods for letting the world know about your work without becoming a spam machine.

Autograph Session. 1PM to 2PM on Sunday in the Main Authors Autograph Area with Steven Kozeniewski and Steven H. Wilson.

Farpoint 2017 Logo

Hold On To the Light Inside of You

This morning, I learned about a brilliant initiative called Hold On To The Light, spearheaded by SFF author Gail Z. Martin. 

Beginning on September 20, hundreds of science fiction and fantasy authors began an online conversation across blogs and socialHold Onto The Light media about mental illness, domestic violence, suicide, depression, PTSD, and related issues that are often extremely upsetting
and difficult to discuss for so many.

Click here to read the first blog post from Hold Onto The Light

Over the past five years, I’ve opened up about my nearly 40-year battle with depression both on social media and at personal appearances. I sometimes discuss how depression has affected my writing and I never cease to be surprised at how willing others are to reveal their own struggles. My, times have changed. Society is finally opening up a dialogue about mental illness and that’s wonderful. The old stigmas are rapidly disintegrating.

My first novel, Testing the Prisoner, is a paranormal mystery that deals with the brutality of child abuse and the trauma that stays with the victims for the rest of their livesTesting the Prisoner by Phil Giunta. This was intimately familiar territory, but that made it no less challenging to write. I had to confront my own pain, my own memories, my own struggles with a darkness that pushed me toward a desire to take my own life at least a half dozen times during my younger days and even a few times in recent years.

Still, I knew the story had to be told for a number of reasons. First, I wanted to let others who have been victims of child abuse to know that they are not alone. Secondly, and perhaps more selfishly, I wanted to turn the tables on a demon that has persistently robbed me of happiness and instead, use it as a storytelling tool to launch my writing career.

As for surviving depression, perhaps it was faith, willpower, or a hope for a brighter future that dissuaded me from any “permanent solutions” to my problem. Much of the credit should also be given to SFF fandom and my growing interest in writing. Watching Star Trek and seeing Star Wars at the tender age of six inspired me. Later, the media tie-in novels became a gateway to speculative fiction and hard SF in my teen years. I began reading Asimov, Clarke, Ellison, Bradbury, and many others. Like many SF films and TV shows, books became my anti-depressant and while they were not an instant panacea, they helped pull me through countless dark and terrible times. They still do today.

Most importantly, the friendship and community that I found in SFF fandom has been the most enriching experience I could ask for. The best and most supportive friends in my life came from my three decades attending SF conventions such as Farpoint, Shore Leave, Balticon, and others.

More, I wouldn’t be published today were it not for the mentorship of august writers like Steven H. Wilson, Howard Weinstein, Michael Jan Friedman, Bob Greenberger, and Aaron Rosenberg, all of whom I met at the aforementioned cons. I am honored to call these chaps my friends, and in the case of Steve, Bob, and Aaron, my publishers!

If you are suffering from depression, I encourage you to reach out and find the help you so richly deserve. You are not alone. You have a right to happiness and health. You have a right to achieve your potential without being hagridden by a demon that wants to convince you of the lie that you’re inadequate, unworthy, or that life is not worth living. I beg you to find the light and hold on to it.

About Hold On To The Light

September/October are the months for Depression Awareness, Suicide Prevention, Bullying Prevention, Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness, World Mental Health Day and Domestic Violence Awareness.

What’s our end game? We want to bring the issues, struggle and treatment out of the shadows and make it clear that no one is alone in the journey. We want to demonstrate fandom taking care of its own. And we want fandom to be a safe space for everyone.

The steering group behind #HoldOnTotheLight is made up of John Hartness, Jaym Gates, Jean Marie Ward, Emily Leverett, Mindy Mymudes and Gail Z. Martin.

How can you help? Share, retweet and engage with the blog posts and social media outreach about the campaign and by the participating authors to spread the word. Encourage the conventions you participate in to add or expand panels on mental wellness. Learn more about the issues, so you can be an educated participant in the discussion.

If you want to get even more hands-on, please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Hope for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

Together, we can #HoldOnToTheLight because #FandomTakesCareOfItsOwn.

You can find updates with links to author blog posts and updates about related news here, and on the HoldOnToTheLight Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/276745236033627/ and on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/WeHoldOnToTheLight (note the ‘we’)

Media: Contact Gail Z. Martin via www.AscendantKingdoms.com